Middle States

Tennis in the Schools

“I don't think there was ever a time he didn't play," Amanda Dion laughed. When describing her father and his love for tennis, she seemingly could talk for days.


“He was my favorite person in the world,” she said. “And I’d follow him to the tennis court every chance I had.”


Dion, a physical education teacher at Park Lane Elementary School in Darby, Pa., is a major proponent of teaching tennis to her students. She’s inspired by all the benefits tennis brings to young people, and also by the memory of her father, who passed away in 2020.


“He was my real life superhero,” she said. “Family was definitely everything to him, and tennis was a huge hobby of his. He is absolutely the reason why I started teaching tennis and why I would never stop teaching it.”


Dion grew up competing in just about any sport she could try, and developed an early understanding of the importance of sports. Now as an elementary school PE teacher, she’s dedicated much of her life to helping young people develop and grow.


For much of the last year with virtual learning, teaching was a bit of a challenge. But Dion used her creativity, imagination and work ethic to figure out a way to keep her kids engaged. How do you teach tennis in front of a computer screen? For Dion, it was all about creativity.


“We had to be flexible,” she said. “At school, in my class, kids would move for 40 straight minutes. So to sit in front of a computer was a bit crazy to me. I had to come up with lots of ideas.”


While all of her sixth graders received racquets and balls in school, many of Dion’s students don’t have their own tennis racquets at home. So Dion had her kids use anything and everything in sight that might help her teach the sport.


“We used socks instead of tennis balls sometimes, and clipboards or books as racquets,” she said. “I’d be on the screen and tell everyone to grab their ‘racquet’ or ‘ball’ and we’d do things like bump-ups, and hit the ball off of walls."


The feedback from her students has been outstanding.


“They love tennis and everything about it,” she said. “This year in person, it’s a main part of my curriculum. I know the kids will be excited to be back in person and playing again.”





Amanda Dion and Park Lane received a USTA Middle States Program Grant for tennis equipment. The equipment included 40 racquets, 24 balls, throw-down lines, caution tape and hand sanitizer. In addition, the local tennis community stepped up to help the school. Arvind Aravindhan (Gulph Mills Tennis Club, Julian Krinsky School of Tennis) and Fred Perrin (PSC Highpoint, Mill Creek) together donated 300-plus tennis balls and 50 tennis racquets for her classes.



Cruise Control Gear has joined USTA Middle States in sponsoring our Unstoppable Women in Tennis series, highlighting the incredibly strong women who are forces on and off the court in our Middle States community. 
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